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Journal Entry written While the Saltmarsh Sparrows Migrate South for the Winter

— Kimberly Ann Priest

for a lover, October 12th

When I was born, the earth had already begun its dying. That’s what mortal things do this time of year to replenish themselves for another season. You prefer to dwell on what comes next while I ask you to observe the beauty of bodies decomposing—philosophically, I mean. After all, we are not beautiful at birth either; we are simply new but (philosophically) we are conditioned to see the beauty in newness, even in its most grotesque forms. I suppose that is why you say you love me: because I am a youthful soul. But, when the dark nights of my terror consume me, post-traumatic stress lighting through my brain, you distance yourself because this looks too much like dying, a helplessness, the thing your mortal psyche is hoping to escape by mere luxury of avoidance. But this is all imagination: if we do not acknowledge a thing, it does not become suddenly untrue. Sometimes I curse God in those moments, my narrative representing “the triumph of all that modernity seeks to surpass … vulnerability, futility … impotence.” 1 And this, it seems, is too difficult for your mortal ear. You retreat into visions and photographs, into mentions of the birds I told you about that, in summer, multiply on the coast of Maine. Sometimes, I appreciate where this conversation is going—I love the birds—but can we include the fact that they are losing their coastline and someday they may never return to this place? “The challenge of encountering a chaos narrative,” says Arthur Frank, “is how not to steer the storyteller away from her feelings … the challenge,” he continues, “is to hear.” 2 What will we do when the coastline is absent, consumed by this city and its sea? Will there be bodies to count or will we, without notice, let them float away, sink to the bottom of our history? You ask me to stop writing poetry because it isn’t leading to a more positive conclusion concerning myself in a medical way. I ask you to consider your footing; without knowing it, you are mired in the chaos, the forces of progress you model, marvel, and coo at; “unmaking,” says Frank, a “world.” 3

1.  from The Wounded Storyteller, Arthur W. Frank, pg. 97
2.  ibid., pg. 101
3.  ibid., pg. 103


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